Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Do Christians Sin?

Meditation for the week of December 6, 2009

1John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
1 John 3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

Do Christians sin?   John seems to say both yes and no.  Our experience says yes.  Most Christians agree that they have sinned at least accidentally after they found out that God had righteously forgiven them.  Some of us are honest enough to admit that we have some “accidents” over and over again.  So even if we don’t sin as much, if we find ourselves sinning even in “small ways”, aren’t we continuing in sin, and doesn’t John say that Christians do not do this?

The Catholic church has outlined the seven deadly sins.  They are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.  How many of us always have our wrath completely under control?  How many of us can honestly say we weren’t gluttonous on Thanksgiving day?  How many of us have watched TV when we should have been doing something productive?  How many of us have wished that we had our neighbors house or job or car?  And if we haven’t had recent problems with any of these sins, aren’t we kind of proud that we have everything under control?  Now unfortunately there are some sins that aren’t included in the seven deadly ones.  Galatians 6:20 lists selfish ambition (NKJV) as one of them.  Isn’t that considered a virtue in a competitive free enterprise capitalistic system?

I believe that there are two kinds of Christians in the world.  The first kind are those who sin and have a conscience about it.  They show their conscience by confessing their sin.  The second kind are those who sin and lie about it by saying that they don’t sin.  John says that we actually make God a liar when we say we have not sinned. 

Some would like to believe that when John says “we have no sin” and “we have not sinned” that John is only talking about our lives before trusting the Lord as Savior.  But since this is a family epistle dealing with fellowship with the Lord and with one another, I am convinced that he is referring to the kind of sin that breaks fellowship in the family.  That means he is talking to Christians after they are saved.  1 John 2:1 says that Christians have an advocate or lawyer with the Father when they sin.  So John seems to imply that Christians do sin after they are saved.  Therefore,  I believe that Christians who say that they do not sin and who say that they do not continue in at least some kinds of sin are deceiving themselves.

So what does John mean when he says that a Christian does not sin?  He says that the commandments are that we believe in the Lord and that we love one another (1 John 3:23).  He comes back to the theme of loving one another over and over again.  He says Cain is one who hated his brother and that we can not be like him and be saved.  He says the devil sinned from the beginning and we cannot be like him and be saved.  John 8:44 says that the devil is a liar and a murderer.  So when John says we should not continue in sin, he is saying we should not be acting in hate like Satan or Cain.  We cannot continue in the sin of hating our brother and of not believing in the Lord and be saved.  Now we don’t always love our brother as we ought so we can confess our sins and in that way keep the commandment as our standard even when it condemns our actions.  Keeping the commandments actually means that we guard the truth.  The truth is that the born again person never wants to harm another brother or sister in Christ.  Cain and Abel fought over religion and Cain murdered Abel.  When religious authorities kill in the name of Christ as some have in the past, according to John, those people who do that are simply not saved.   I think that is what John means in 1 John 3:9, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin (or hate), for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”  God’s seed plants love in our hearts.

John sees things black and white.  We walk in the light or we walk in darkness.  We love or we hate.  I wonder what his analysis of our lives would be just based on our love of “one another”?

Bruce Collins

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